TULSA, Okla. – Greg Norman and LIV Golf Investments have pledged their support and backing to players who elect to play in the controversial events following the PGA Tour and DP World Tour decisions to not grant conflicting-event releases.
The first event, scheduled for June 9-11 at the Centurion Club outside of London, will go on as scheduled, Norman said, with a full field of 48 players and the organization’s backing of those who compete, according to a letter he sent Sunday and obtained by SI.com/Morning Read.
“Simply put, these Tours have no right to restrict your ability to play as you see fit or take actions against you,’’ Norman wrote. “In all cases, we want you to know that LIV Golf has your back and will defend and assist you if either Tour tries to act against your interests and the progress of the sport.’’
Norman, the two-time major winner who in October was named CEO of LIV Golf Investments and commissioner of a new league that is now set to begin play in October, has long believed going back to his playing days that the PGA Tour is too restrictive as it relates to independent contractors being able to compete where and when they want.
PGA Tour members agree to play a minimum of 15 events per year while also needing releases – essentially permission – to play conflicting events overseas. Those releases have never been granted for events in North America, and the LIV Golf Invitational Series have five of them scheduled for this year, including one in early July outside Portland, Oregon.
The Tour said last week it would not allow its players to compete in those events and that they face penalties if they do.
“To be clear, this action in no way lessens our resolve,’’ Norman said. “We will have a full field in London, regardless of what the Tours do. We find it hard to comprehend how they can justify their efforts to prevent you, as independent contractors, from playing professional golf where and when you choose. It disserves you and the sport.‘’
Norman added: “We welcome your play in other Tours and believe the other Tours should welcome your play in our events. This mutual recognition is the best outcome for players, fans, and the entire golf community, and we are dedicated to it. This will become even clearer when we unveil our local community program for London and LIV’s worldwide charity commitment.’’
The field for the first $25 million tournament is expected to be announced in the next few weeks, Norman said.